Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

Getting Out of the Quicksand

with one comment

Total Black: $119.60
Total Red: $228,312.40

Total black today includes my first blog donation!  I suppose that, even when you open your hand to let others help you, you’re not always prepared to receive it.  When I read the donation notification email, it unleashed an odd array of feelings.  I felt humbled, humiliated, proud, and excited.  Kind of wasn’t expecting those emotions.  But thank you!  You know who you are.

In a few prior entries like Never Been Further Apart and When I Grow Up, I touched on the potential to significantly affect positive social change if we could find a way to use our money to help each other.  For example, in Res Ipsa Loquitur I noted that Starbucks averages roughly 18 million dollars a day just from beverage sales and I wondered about the change we could affect if everyone donated that coffee money instead.  In The Lowly Penny, I mentioned the thousands of dollars annually that the Metropolitan Museum of Art brings in just from coins tossed into fountains and I wondered about the good we could accomplish if we tossed those coins into a collective fountain. My first donation today brought all of this back and got me thinking.  Somehow it doesn’t feel right to use donation money for something ordinary like groceries or the light bill.

This morning the image of quicksand popped into my head to symbolize my situation.  I wasn’t sure if the analogy worked though so I looked it up.  Turns out quicksand isn’t as deadly as the silver screen would have you believe.  Sure, if it’s deep enough or you somehow land in over your head, then it will kill you.  But because of the density of the sand and the buoyancy of the human body, quite often you don’t sink below the surface.  Instead you just get stuck and something else causes your death: dehydration, sun exposure, wild animals.   Getting back out of quicksand is extremely difficult, however, and the catch is not to move quickly, but relax and you’ll float to the top.  The more you struggle, the more you sink.  Pretty apt analogy for debt.

Like quicksand, debt won’t kill you.  People aren’t executed for bankruptcy, as they once were.  We no longer have debtors prison.  Instead, it’s the surrounding circumstances that might bring you under: the stress, the anxiety, and the worry . . . and maybe the shame too.  And acting quickly and rashly regarding debt will just leave you stuck in the mud.  So I decided to avoid the urge earlier today to take my donation money and run.  To the store for groceries.  To the bank to pay bills.  To the landlord for rent.  Instead, I decided that I’m going to leave donations in the PayPal account until I’ve accumulated enough to pay off something.  A credit card.  A student loan.  The IRS.

Acting quickly—that financial thrashing about—will just immobilize me in the quicksand of debt and leave me (and any donations) stuck right back where I was before.

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

September 8, 2009 at 22:02

One Response

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  1. That’s fantastic news about the job! I’m so happy for you. Now that you’re in, hopefully, you’ll keep getting assignments on a regular basis. I agree with you about the drugs–now that you’ll have a job, it’s probably a good idea to get out of the program, especially since it’s so early on.


    September 10, 2009 at 02:49

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